We all know we could be a little kinder to the planet and a little more considerate of the local culture when on holiday. But, when you’re letting your hair down, chilling out and soaking up the sun, worrying about recycling, carbon emissions and remembering to unplug your straighteners before you leave the hotel room are not always top of the agenda.
There is another way! Here is our guide to making small changes to your holiday habits that will benefit not only local environments and culture, but your own experience of the country you are visiting. From planning your trip to relaxing poolside, here is our guide to a better way to holiday.
Planning Your Holiday
- Do your research: A bit of pre-trip reading about your destination is not only a good way to amp up your holiday excitement, it will also allow you to be more considerate and sensitive to local customs.
- Pack light: When packing, be realistic about the clothes you’ll actually need – how many days are you planning on sunbathing in a bikini? Could you fit it all in a hand-luggage bag? Lighter packing means less to lug around and lower fuel emissions!
- Go local: Have a little delve into your hotel’s employment policy – staffed and/or owned by locals means your money will be going into the local economy. Plus, the staff will be able to tell you exactly which bars serve the most authentic sangria…
- Learn the lingo: It may not seem like much, but learning even just a few native phrases goes a long way with the locals – you never know, your language skills might earn you a few new friends!
- Leave the car: As tempting as it is, driving to the airport is not only a bad move emissions wise, but means you will have to shell out to park. Jump on the tube, take a bus or see if you can car share instead!
- Go before you go: Taking a trip to the toilet on a plane uses a lot more energy than you’d think. Save yourself the awkward shuffle past fellow passengers and use the toilets at the airport before you board if possible.
- Use e-tickets: Not only will using e-tickets save unnecessary paper waste, it will also save you the familiar panic of ‘did I remember to print of my ticket?? What pocket did I leave it in!?’
- Go electric: If you are renting a car, see if you are able to rent an electric one. These are much better from an environmental point of view and you won’t need to worry about running out of fuel so often!
- Be direct: If you can, take a direct flight rather than a connecting one. It may be pricier, but the environmental impact is significant, and you won’t have to entertain yourself for five hours in Faro Airport.
- Get a refill: If the local water is safe to drink, save the planet and a bit of cash by carrying a water bottle around with you, and asking cafes, restaurants and shops to fill it up for you from the tap.
- Conduct market research: Shopping at local markets is a great way to put money back into the economy, and to support sellers. Plus, doing so will give you an authentic taste of both the local culture and produce.
- Download your maps: Save paper waste and kiss goodbye to rummaging around in your bag for the map pamphlet you picked up the hotel reception. Simply download the Google map areas you want to your phone, and you can check where you are even without Wi-Fi!
- Coffee with a conscience: Try to steer away from any cafes or fast food chains in the country you are visiting. They may have a comforting familiarity, but sampling the local equivalent is not only cheaper and tastier, but supports the local economy too.
- Carry a tote: Having your own bag with you when out exploring means you will always have a place to store any purchases and/or beach gear, without needing to accept environmentally unfriendly plastic bags instead.
- Watch what you buy: Cheap souvenirs can be tempting, but if it is ultimately destined for landfill, maybe think twice. Support local sellers by buying better quality items and paying slightly more instead.
In the hotel
- Reuse towels: Unless you let them know otherwise, most hotel cleaners will wash and change your towels and sheets every day, even when they don’t really need to. Leave your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door so your linens will be left alone!
- Use your curtains: Curtains are a useful tool to control your room temperature – leave them drawn during the day to keep the heat out so your AC needn’t work as hard and you’ll return to a cooling, fresh room.
- Take shampoo: We all love to snaffle the mini shampoo bottles from hotel rooms, but doing so could actually be helping the environment as well. If any of the bottle has been used it will be thrown away – better you put it to good use!
- Pass it on: Try and leave a little something for those who visit after you – donate your travel guide/maps/giant inflatable lilo to the hotel so it can be used again. As a bonus, you won’t have to drag it all the way home in your suitcase!
- Take only memories: Try not to take anything home that cannot be replaced, e.g. shells, rocks, sand etc. That colourful pebble will always look better on a Spanish beach than your windowsill.